U.S. SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Litigation Release No. 23647 / September 19, 2016
Securities and Exchange Commission v. Tropikgadget FZE, et al., Civil Action No. 1:15 cv 10543-ADB (D. Mass.)
SEC Obtains Final Judgments Against Promoters of Pyramid Scheme Targeting Latino Communities
A federal court in Boston, Massachusetts, recently entered final judgments by consent against six defendants in an ongoing enforcement action filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission in February 2015. The SEC charged two Portuguese companies operating under the name Wings Network, along with three company officers and 12 promoters behind an international pyramid scheme targeting Latino communities in the U.S.
The judgments obtained by the SEC were against six promoters of the scheme. Final judgments were entered against Vinicius Romulo Aguiar and Thais Utino Aguiar, formerly of Marlborough, Massachusetts on September 8, 2016; and against Geovani Nascimento Bento and Priscilla Bento of Auburn, Massachusetts, and Dennis Arthur Somaio and Elaine Amaral Somaio of Marlborough, Massachusetts on September 16, 2016.
In settling the SEC's charges, each of the six defendants admitted certain facts including that he or she was a promoter of defendants Tropikgadget Unipessoal LDA and Tropikgadget FZE, which operated under the name Wings Network. The judgments enjoin the six promoters from future violations of Section 5 of the Securities Act of 1933.
The judgments also order the Aguiars to pay a total of $71,894.31 on a joint and several basis, the Bentos to pay a total of $150,816.45 on a joint and several basis, and the Somaios to pay a total of $98,671.45 on a joint and several basis, in disgorgement of ill-gotten gains and prejudgment interest. However, prejudgment interest and all but $732.83 and $16,534.63 in disgorgement were waived against the Bentos and Somaios, respectively, and civil penalties were not assessed against the Aguiars, Bentos and Somaios based upon their demonstrated inability to pay. Finally, the judgments also permanently restrain and enjoin all the defendants from offering, operating, or participating in any marketing or sales program in which a participant is compensated or promised compensation solely or primarily (1) for inducing another person to become a participant in the program, or (2) if such induced person induces another to become a participant in the program.
The SEC previously obtained judgments against Tropikgadget, three company officers (Sergio Henrique Tanaka of San Paulo, Brazil and Davie, Florida, Carlos Luis da Silveira Barbosa of Lisbon, Portugal, and Claudio de Oliveira Pereira Campos of Lisbon, Portugal); four promotors (Julio G. Cruz of Duluth, Georgia, Simonia de Cassia Silva of Gloucester, Massachusetts, Viviane Amaral Rodrigues of Clinton, Massachusetts and Wesley Brandao Rodrigues of Marlborough, Massachusetts); and two relief defendants (Compasswinner LDA and Happy SGPS SA, both of Portugal).
The SEC's litigation in this matter continues against defendant Andrew Elliot Arrambide of Sandy, Utah, a promoter of the Wings Network pyramid scheme, and four relief defendants.
The SEC's investigation was conducted by Scott R. Stanley, Dawn Edick, John McCann, Deena Bernstein, and Amy Gwiazda of the SEC's Boston Regional Office. The SEC's litigation is being led by Ms. Bernstein and David London.
For further information, see Litigation Release Nos. 23209 (Feb. 27, 2015) (SEC Charges Operators of International Pyramid Scheme Targeting Latino Communities); 23351 (Sept. 17, 2015) (SEC Obtains Final Judgment Against Promoter of Pyramid Scheme Targeting Latino Communities); 23407 (Nov. 13, 2015) (SEC Obtains Final Judgment Against Pyramid Scheme Targeting Latino Communities); and 23548 (May 27, 2016) (SEC Obtains Final Judgment Against Massachusetts-Based Promoter of Pyramid Scheme Targeting Latino Communities); and 23632 (September 1, 2016) (SEC Obtains Final Judgments Against Company Officers and Promoters of Pyramid Scheme Targeting Latino Communities).